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Crafted from organic, sustainable concrete. Four color varieties available. Compact size of 5" wide and 11" high. Conveniently portable so it can be placed anywhere indoors or outdoors. Includes 3 gel canisters for fuel.
Some have been received with cracks. Starts to crack and wear if left outside for long periods of time.
Portable and can be used indoors or outdoors. Width of 5" and 3.5" in height. Flame life of roughly 40 to 50 minutes. Small size ideal for indoor use to roast marshmallows or create an inviting ambiance.
Some feel it is too overpriced for its very small size.
Hammered antique steel finish is unique and attractive. For indoor and outdoor use. Easy to use. Users love the “instant ambiance.” Can be ignited with match or long lighter. Durable.
At 13 lbs, this option is a bit on the heavy side.
Smokeless for use indoors and out. Environmentally friendly tabletop decoration. Cozy centerpiece for all occasions. Doesn't get hot to the touch, avoiding accidental burns. Measures 5.5" tall and 11" wide.
Some reports of the bowl cracking after limited use.
Sophisticated and elegant centerpiece. Measures 14" diameter and 7.5" in height. Weighs only 6 lbs. A single gel fuel can burns approximately 2 hours. Use on an indoor entertaining table or outside under the stars. Available in silver or gold.
Fuel is quite expensive and burns out faster than expected.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
There’s nothing quite like the warm, soft crackle of a fire on a cold winter’s night. Traditionally, to enjoy this you’d need to install a fireplace, build a chimney, and lay in a supply of split wood, all time-consuming and expensive steps on the way to enjoying that cozy fire. Luckily, you now have a variety of easier and less expensive options available when you yearn for that fireplace experience. One of the best is a gel fireplace.
A gel fireplace provides both light and heat while producing none of the ash, soot, or toxic fumes of a wood-burning fireplace. It is also a fairly inexpensive way to provide that fireplace ambiance and the peace of mind of having a backup source of light and heat.
This buying guide covers the specifics of gel fireplaces, such as the various designs, burn times, and installation. For some of the best gel fireplaces on the market, check out the handpicked options that we’ve included with this guide.
Gel fireplaces come in a variety of shapes and sizes to fit different needs. Some of the more common types include tabletop, wall-mounted, and freestanding.
Tabletop: One popular type of gel fireplace is the tabletop fireplace. These tend to be more compact than other types and are usually used as a table centerpiece or on a shelf or end table. If you’re interested in a gel fireplace that you can move from one spot to another, a tabletop model is probably your best bet. These are also a great size for use in something like a dorm room or office.
Wall-mounted: These gel fireplaces are designed to be hung on a wall like a picture or mirror. As such, they aren’t very deep, although some are designed to fit into a recess in the wall (which requires more effort in terms of installation). If your living space is small, a wall-mounted gel fireplace could be a great choice.
Freestanding: These gel fireplaces are units that sit on the floor. They range from fireplace inserts to corner fireplaces to full-fledged imitation fireplaces that you can push up against a wall. Freestanding gel fireplaces often have some form of mantel and fake “logs” to complete the look of a wood-burning fireplace.
Gel fireplaces typically use canisters of jellied isopropyl alcohol, which burn for a few hours. If the fireplace has room for several canisters, you can choose to burn one at a time and extend the burn time.
A gel fireplace that produces more heat will warm a room more quickly and warm a larger room more effectively. While gel fireplaces tend to generate less heat than comparable gas or electric fireplaces, some can put out a sizable amount of heat. Note that the more gel canisters the fireplace contains, the more heat it produces (if they’re all burning at once). Gel fireplaces typically range from 2,000 to 18,000 Btu. Base the Btu rating of a gel fireplace by the size of the room you’re trying to heat. The general formula here is 20 Btu per square foot of room, so a 500-square-foot room would need a gel fireplace capable of producing 10,000 Btu.
Gel fireplaces range from simple tabletop models to large freestanding units complete with a mantel, so their assembly varies considerably. While smaller gel fireplaces usually require little or no assembly, larger units can take up to an hour or more to put together. As with all such projects, you should be sure that the instructions are clear and verify that you have all the parts, hardware, and tools you need before beginning to put the fireplace together.
Where gel fireplaces really shine is in their installation, and that’s because there typically isn’t any. Once you’ve put it together, just move the fireplace to where you want it to go in your home and start using it. Unlike other types of fireplaces, you don’t need to worry about installing any wires, pipes, or venting to use a gel fireplace.
Gel fireplaces are made of a variety of materials. Stainless steel is fairly common, both for its durability and its ability to stand up to rust and corrosion. Plus, it’s versatile. Gel fireplaces made of stainless steel can fit in with many styles of décor, particularly if you’re partial to modern accents.
Other materials you can find include hammered copper, concrete, ceramic, and even wood, particularly on freestanding fireplaces with ornate mantels. Tempered glass is sometimes used as a shield for safety.
Fuel reservoir: this is the container that holds the fuel canisters. Tabletop fireplaces usually hold one canister, while larger fireplaces can hold two or more. The more canisters the fuel reservoir can hold, the more heat it can produce and the more it costs to operate.
Feet: Some gel fireplaces, particularly tabletop models, include rubber feet. These keep the fireplace from moving if it’s bumped or scratching the table or other surface it’s sitting on.
Extras: Some tabletop gel fireplaces include decorative additions, such as stones or other material that can be packed in around the gel canister. Larger fireplaces may include some type of screen or grate, either included with it or available for an additional fee.
Inexpensive: Gel fireplaces start at around $50 to $100. In this range, you’ll find smaller, simpler tabletop fireplaces. These are typically made from concrete and usually only hold one fuel canister.
Mid-range: For $100 to $200, larger tabletop fireplaces are available, many of which are made of metal. Gel fireplaces in this range tend to be a bit more durable than less expensive options and have more elegant designs.
Expensive: If you want a gel fireplace that really stands out, you should look at those that cost $200 to $300 and more. These models include inserts for use in existing fireplaces and larger freestanding options. These tend to be more durable and decorative and hold more canisters for increased heat.
A. Compared to a wood-burning fireplace with its smoke, ash, and soot, a gel fireplace is extremely easy to clean. Because the alcohol-based fuel burns cleanly, you won’t have anywhere near the mess that you get when burning wood. A simple wipe with a rag now and then, perhaps with a bit of glass, metal, or furniture cleaner, should keep your gel fireplace looking like new.
A. Anything that produces fire is potentially hazardous. For safety’s sake, keep a fire extinguisher handy any time you use an open flame. That said, a gel fireplace is one of the safer types of fireplace you can own. It creates no sparks or toxic fumes, so you can operate them ventless, meaning you don’t need to worry about poking a hole in your wall or venting your gel fireplace into a chimney. Some gel fireplaces include glass panels that act as shields, so you can easily see the flames but not come into contact with them accidentally.
A. Gel fireplaces typically use jellied isopropyl alcohol that comes in canisters, much like Sterno. While these canisters can be expensive if you operate the fireplace often, they’re convenient, easy to replace, and easy to extinguish. To kill the fire, simply place the lid back on top of the canister. Because the canister can be closed, any remaining fuel can be safely stored for future use.
Fireplaces that use a pourable fuel, typically ethanol, are called ethanol fireplaces. These are different from gel fireplaces, although you can buy a cup converter so you can use ethanol more easily in your gel fireplace.
Before using your fireplace, be sure to verify what type of fuel your fireplace burns, either by checking the included instructions or by contacting the seller or manufacturer. Failure to use the correct fuel in a gel fireplace can lead to excessive fumes or even cause a fire.